What to Look For in a Portable Water Purifier

Whether you’re backpacking in the backcountry or travelling abroad, having a reliable water purifier is essential. These handy contraptions transform murky river and lake water into safe, drinkable water.


Look for a model with a pore size smaller than 0.2 microns to protect against bacteria, protozoa (cysts), and viruses. Also, choose a product that comes with a certificate of testing.

Battery life

The battery life of a portable water purifier can depend on a lot of things, including the environment you’ll be using it in and the size and weight. Generally speaking, the longer the battery lasts, the better. Some models are rechargeable, and others have an internal battery that’s good for a few days. You should always pack a spare battery just in case.

When choosing a portable water purifier, make sure to look for one that kills bacteria, cysts and viruses. It should also remove chlorine, metals and other contaminants from the water. Some models use gravity, while others use a pump to push water through the purification medium. Some even combine both methods.

A portable water purifier is a great choice for camping and hiking trips. It’s lightweight, compact, and has a built-in storage tank that holds up to 4 liters of water. It also eliminates harmful contaminants, such as lead, arsenic, fluoride, and nitrates.

The Steripen Adventurer is a compact, easy to use water filtration system that uses UV light to kill bacteria and cysts. It looks like a pen that you dip into your water bottle and stir with, and it takes less than 90 seconds to purify a liter of water. It’s perfect for backpacking, and it works great in places like Torres del Paine where the water is contaminated with lots of sediment.


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There are a variety of different types of portable water purifiers available on the market. Some are simple, while others require more advanced assembly. Some are a combination of filter and bottle, while others are designed specifically to be a backpacking water filter. Some have a pre-filter, which helps prevent large particulates like dirt and sand from clogging the main filter.

Most portable water purifiers work by pumping water through a filter, which removes impurities such as chlorine and metals. Some, like the MSR Guardian, use a self-cleaning technology that cleans out about 10 percent of the water for each pump cycle. They can also be used to kill protozoa, bacteria and viruses.

Chemical water treatment systems are some of the simplest to use. They are also incredibly lightweight and inexpensive. Some of these systems come in the form of a straw that is inserted into a water bottle, while others, such as Sawyer’s Squeeze or Platypus’ QuickDraw, thread onto the top of a bag or bottle and filter water directly into it.

UV light

UV water purifiers take a different approach than other filter options, using ultraviolet radiation to kill off bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. They typically consist of a battery-powered wand that you insert into a bottle or reservoir, like Katadyn’s Steripen. They work best with clear water, though, as bacteria and protozoa can hide behind particles and sediment.

These models are lighter and smaller than pump and gravity filters, with most capable of sanitizing around 33 ounces in 90 seconds or less. They require a bit of patience, however, as you must leave them in the water for a short time before the process is complete.

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Unlike physical treatments, which rely on heat to decontaminate water, UV treatment leaves no residuals. These treatments also tend to be faster and more energy efficient, allowing them to treat large volumes of water quickly and cheaply. They are the preferred option for potable water treatment and ultra-pure applications. Most UV treatment devices require an inbuilt rechargeable battery, but some use standard disposable batteries. If using these devices in remote areas, make sure you carry extra batteries to avoid being stranded without clean water.


A good portable water purifier needs to fit in your purse or backpack, as well as provide clean drinking water on demand. A few important features to look for are a durable design, high water flow rate, and minimum weight. Some models have a compact, cylinder shape, while others are more like a regular water bottle. The latter are often more convenient and lighter than cylinders, but they may have less capacity.

Another great option for travel is a UV filter, which uses light to sterilize bacteria and protozoa in clear water. Steripen models are popular and available in a variety of sizes. For example, the Steripen Ultra is durable and sized to easily fit in a purse or backpack. However, it can’t handle cloudy or dirty water and doesn’t remove chemicals or particulates from the water.

Other types of portable water purifiers include pumps and gravity filters. The former use a pump to filter the water, while the latter are designed to be hung and allow gravity to do the work. These types of purifiers typically have higher flow rates but are more difficult to use when you’re on the go.

For travel, you should also consider whether the portable water purifier you choose has any safety certifications from independent testing laboratories. This will ensure that it meets the minimum standards for safe drinking water.